We love summer movies for all the same reasons we love summer itself: lazy afternoons entirely spent in a swimsuit, long balmy nights without anywhere to be the next day, sleep-away camp. A good flick about those languid, sun-drenched moments between June and September condenses the very best parts of the season into something we can enjoy any time of the year.
Clothes play a big part in that. From the full floral skirts and tied-up blouses found on The Talented Mr Ripley’s Marge Sherwood, to Frances "Baby" Houseman’s dance practice uniform of leotards and cut-offs in Dirty Dancing, the wardrobes found throughout warm-weather films reflect the blissful freedom of getting dressed for vacation. There's no HR department breathing down your neck, or school policy to follow—you can wear what you want, when you want, however you like. Because that opportunity is so wonderfully liberating in our everyday existence, the big screen makes it seem larger than life.
That certainly holds true with the seven summer cinema icons ahead, each with a look we’ve been coveting from the moment we first saw it in an air-conditioned theater. Keep reading for a break down of what makes their go-to outfits so special and, naturally, the pieces you need to cop each one for yourself.
1. Frances Houseman, Dirty Dancing
Decades before Kendall and Kylie began wearing bodysuits with faded jeans (or, um, were born), Baby owned the look with her closet of dancer-off-duty leotards and slouchy cut-off shorts. Classic white kicks and a killer two step are the perfect finishing touch.
2. Suzy Bishop, Moonrise Kingdom
While this bookish New English tween was busy falling in love, we only had eyes for her wardrobe. A tour-de-force of midcentury silhouettes, prim and proper accessories, and rosy pink tones, her unabashedly feminine take on wilderness survival style might not be the most practical but, man, is it cute.
3. Katie, Wet Hot American Summer
When it comes to cool summer camp style, counselor Katie has the formula on lock: a striped T-shirt, funky arts-and-crafts cabin necklace, and short jean shorts. Slouchy, nonchalant attitude, optional (but encouraged).
4. Shavonne Wright, Dazed and Confused
Although it’s all but impossible to choose just one best-dressed character from this ‘70s-inspired cult classic, we have to give Shavonne snaps for nailing this summer’s over-the-shoulder trend decades in advance. (Shout out number two, however, goes to Jodi Kramer and her brilliant mixing of denim on denim!)
5. Anne Marie Chadwick, Blue Crush
If there was ever a reason to ditch your string bikini and caftan for a sportier beach ensemble, it would be Kate Bosworth’s turn as a Hawaiian surfer in this 2002 blockbuster. Her foolproof combination? Color-blocked rash guards over sleek and supportive suits.
6. Marge Sherwood, The Talented Mr. Ripley
Between her artfully tied poplin blouses and full floral skirts, this free-spited debutante’s relaxed, ’50s-chic aesthetic has always been something to envy. The tragic end to her love story? Not so much.
7. Allie Hamilton, The Notebook
Although Allie’s romance with Noah has its ups and downs, her go-to ensemble never changes: a polished and pretty tea dress with ladylike pumps. Talk about an unstoppable couple.